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Author Topic: Re: Cooperation and Fraternal Love =Branch Theory?  (Read 4327 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: September 20, 2011, 06:10:12 PM »


In any case, the Athonites clearly don't know a thing about OO history or theology.

"Severian," these are the types of debates we ought to avoid. The Athonites may be wrong about certain things, but they are holy men, and we should talk about them with some trepidation.
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« Reply #46 on: September 20, 2011, 06:18:05 PM »

^Oh, I agree with you completely. I did not wish to insult them in any way, that was not my intention. I just wanted to make clear that they do not have a full grasp on our theology. I hope the Athonites pray for sinful people like me every day. Forgive me.
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« Reply #47 on: September 20, 2011, 07:41:34 PM »

Oh, and I find it funny how you complained about Monachos not being welcoming to OO, and then here you are basically telling me to shut up (which, I presume, was also the point of repeatedly saying I am not Orthodox - something anyone who looks to the left of my posts will see).

Why don't you ask a parish priest near you? It's one thing to "understand" Orthodoxy via the internet or reading. Try living the Orthodox life, and you'll see what compels us to recognize the OO as Orthodox.

Also, I recommend this podcast from Dr. Clark Carlton: http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/carlton/theological_language_ecumenical_dialogue_and_evangelism_part_iii

Here's a typed excerpt:
Quote
I think a more pragmatic and fruitful method (toward union) would be to convene a conference of seasoned Athonite monks and seasoned Coptic monks. Have them gather, and instead of discussing historical theology and who did what to whom in the fifth century, have them talk about how they pray, and how they fast, and how they try to acquire the virtues. If that happened, I think both sides would be able to gauge accurately just how close or how far apart we really are. I suspect the monks on Athos might come away from such a meeting surprised.

I happen to know at least one priest who does NOT believe they are Orthodox, for your information.  As well, there is all of Mt. Athos...
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« Reply #48 on: September 20, 2011, 07:45:31 PM »

^May I ask what jurisdiction this Priest is from? I am curious...

Are you saying you know other Priests who do believe we are Orthodox?
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« Reply #49 on: September 20, 2011, 08:52:48 PM »

Athonites also rebaptize Chrismated converts.
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« Reply #50 on: September 20, 2011, 09:11:02 PM »

^May I ask what jurisdiction this Priest is from? I am curious...

Are you saying you know other Priests who do believe we are Orthodox?

Because I only know a few priests, I am not going to give his jurisdiction, as it may well give him away and since he's not - to my knowledge - mentioned online anywhere about his position, I am not sure it's my place to give him away.  But, yes, I am saying I know priests who do NOT believe you are Orthodox.
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« Reply #51 on: September 20, 2011, 09:24:19 PM »

^Ok then, I understand.  Smiley
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« Reply #52 on: September 21, 2011, 03:12:47 AM »

Do you know on what doctrinal points they believe that we are not Orthodox?
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« Reply #53 on: September 21, 2011, 03:56:10 AM »

I would presume it is related to the person of Christ.
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« Reply #54 on: September 21, 2011, 04:10:43 AM »

But do you know what their views are based on in particular?

Is it our acceptance of the perfect humanity of Christ? Of his divinity? Of the hypostatic union? Of the reality of the human faculty of will in the humanity of the incarnate Word?

If a person is willing to condemn an entire communion to life outside the Church and Christ then it must surely be based on some reality that can be easily demonstrated and documented?

Is that not the case? Is that not demanded by our Christian Faith?

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« Reply #55 on: September 21, 2011, 04:16:06 AM »

Well, this isn't an issue that I've ever talked at length with a priest over, seeing as how there are countless issues of far more immediate importance in my life.  However, even if he believed every single thing you believe is Orthodox, that still doesn't mean he wouldn't "condemn an entire communion to life outside the Church and Christ" as he could still believe you to be schismatic.

Tell me this:  Do you "condemn" Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses to "life outside the Church and Christ"?  Or do you believe they too are the Church?  I really was not trying to get into a debate.  I was answering a question directly asked to me in a thread that has for some strange reason been revived.
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« Reply #56 on: September 21, 2011, 06:27:42 AM »

Well, this isn't an issue that I've ever talked at length with a priest over, seeing as how there are countless issues of far more immediate importance in my life.  However, even if he believed every single thing you believe is Orthodox, that still doesn't mean he wouldn't "condemn an entire communion to life outside the Church and Christ" as he could still believe you to be schismatic.

Tell me this:  Do you "condemn" Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses to "life outside the Church and Christ"?  Or do you believe they too are the Church?  I really was not trying to get into a debate.  I was answering a question directly asked to me in a thread that has for some strange reason been revived.

Trying to equate the Oriental Orthodox with the Mormons or the Jehovah's Witnesses is a bad comparison because the two situations are not even close to being analogous. The Mormons were never even part of the Church to begin with, but the OO were.
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« Reply #57 on: September 21, 2011, 09:05:32 AM »

JamesRottnek, You do realize there's a private forum here where you can say anything you want about us. From the looks of it, you should fit right in with some of the other EO posters there.  Sad 
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« Reply #58 on: September 21, 2011, 09:47:46 AM »

I am confused as to why it should matter what an individual priest who James knows thinks about Oriental Orthodoxy, other than as fuel for more arguments that I am sure neither side really want to have. I will say that I know non-Chalcedonians (Ethiopians and Eritreans) who are communed in both the Bulgarian and OCA churches back in my home area of Northern California, and are considered to be integral members of those churches. Without an Oriental Orthodox alternative in the area (I had to move 1,200 miles away to find a Coptic Orthodox church, glory be to God), it is amazing how quickly these polemical walls are broken down in practice (that is to say, in reality), particularly against the backdrop of an otherwise thoroughly Roman Catholic environment. So I have to conclude as a non-Orthodox observer, looking in from the outside, that the operative principle in those places where the two communions might meet on non-polemical grounds (e.g., not ecumenical meetings, or declarations from atop Mt. Athos...) is often "Where Orthodoxy is, there is the Church", or at least that this is just as salient an idea in the lives of both EO and OO as the principle of "Where the Bishop is, there is the Church".

Having said all that, I have also met some OO who maintain that the EO are heretics (a much smaller number than the opposite way 'round, BTW), so again, what is the point of such anecdotal evidence? We already know that the schism remains, without referring to Fr. "He Who Shall Not Be Named" or Dick and Jane Layperson. The local, everyday demonstrations of unity must be seen as a better model for the future than the condemnations of the past, even if we all acknowledge there is still some ways to go and that we will not get there but by the work of the Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #59 on: September 21, 2011, 09:48:42 AM »

And we are talking about a huge amount of historical and documentary evidence showing that both parties always considered the other party to be Orthodox even if defective in some point of view.

Is there a book which presents this huge amount of evidence regarding historical relations between EO and OO and how they have regarded each other?  If not, would you consider writing such a book?
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« Reply #60 on: September 21, 2011, 09:51:24 AM »

I am considering writing something lengthy about the relationships between the two communions over the years. It is not at all as it is represented by modern polemicists.
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« Reply #61 on: September 21, 2011, 03:59:31 PM »

Fwiw, my Priest views the Byzantines as Orthodox, insofar that they are Orthodox in faith and praxis, but he has (without using so many words) made it clear enough that they are schismatic. He does not commune Byzantines and he is totally against the idea of our Church accepting the council of Chalcedon. I once asked him "would you commune Byzantine Orthodox?" to which he then said "No, my hierarchs would not allow it, besides Christ established one Church, we cannot commune those who believe apply a duality [of natures] to Christ (I.e. the Chalcedonians) and those who do not (I.e. the OO)".

An Important Note: This may or may not be my own personal opinion.
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« Reply #62 on: September 21, 2011, 05:13:33 PM »

I am considering writing something lengthy about the relationships between the two communions over the years. It is not at all as it is represented by modern polemicists.
I'd buy a copy.
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« Reply #63 on: September 21, 2011, 05:44:48 PM »

I am considering writing something lengthy about the relationships between the two communions over the years. It is not at all as it is represented by modern polemicists.
I'd buy a copy.
As would I.
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« Reply #64 on: September 21, 2011, 10:08:06 PM »

Well, this isn't an issue that I've ever talked at length with a priest over, seeing as how there are countless issues of far more immediate importance in my life.  However, even if he believed every single thing you believe is Orthodox, that still doesn't mean he wouldn't "condemn an entire communion to life outside the Church and Christ" as he could still believe you to be schismatic.

Tell me this:  Do you "condemn" Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses to "life outside the Church and Christ"?  Or do you believe they too are the Church?  I really was not trying to get into a debate.  I was answering a question directly asked to me in a thread that has for some strange reason been revived.

Trying to equate the Oriental Orthodox with the Mormons or the Jehovah's Witnesses is a bad comparison because the two situations are not even close to being analogous. The Mormons were never even part of the Church to begin with, but the OO were.

My point was only to say that even Fr. Peter Farrington would refuse to accept that certain people are the Church, even when they claim to be.  My point was that doing so does not mean that such a group is evil or anything, but merely that you do not accept them as the Church.

CoptoGeek, if you read my other posts you will find that, while I do not believe the OO are the Church, I have no animosity towards you. 
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« Reply #65 on: September 21, 2011, 10:10:54 PM »

^I would agree with you in saying that you are far more charitable towards the OO than many of your coreligionists who post on the private fora. Many of whom are a bunch of cult-like... *holds his tongue*.  Tongue
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« Reply #66 on: September 22, 2011, 12:03:28 AM »

Fr. Peter,

Forgive me if I'm misinterpreting something here, but it seems to me like you're saying that schism doesn't really matter. Or at least that it doesn't lead to one group losing its apostolicity and/or catholicity. How do you reconcile that with St. John Chrysostom's teaching that schism is worse than heresy?
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« Reply #67 on: September 22, 2011, 03:34:48 AM »

William, thank you for your thoughtful question.

The fact is that schism is a terrible sin, and worse than heresy. But the vast majority of people belonging to a 'separated' group are not schismatics at all. From my perspective as a priest sitting in the UK, is a devout, elderly Christian of the Romanian Orthodox Church a schismatic? I don't think so. The Romanian Orthodox Christian may not even know there is a Coptic Orthodox Church, and may not know anything truthful about my Church in any case. On what basis then is such a faithful Christian a schismatic?

Is Max Michel, the Egyptian who has set himself up in our own times as a pseudo-bishop in Egypt a schismatic? Most certainly. He is worthy of every criticism and condemnation, and those who join themselves to him, cutting themselves off from the life of the Church are in grave and present danger of being schismatics with him.

But not everyone associated with a 'separation' is a schismatic. If a man has decided to leave the Church and join Max Michel's group he is probably a schismatic if he does so with knowledge and intent. But is his 10 year old son a schismatic? I don't see how that would be a just or reasonable conclusion. And if after some years, the 10 year old son who becomes a 20 year old man just keeps going to the same 'Church' he has always known (as the vast majority of religious people do) then he is not necessarily a schismatic either.

If he became an activist for his cause, and actively propagated the separation into a new generation then he might well be worthy of being considered a schismatic. But if he is just going to 'Church' and trying to be Orthodox as he has understood it so far then he might be misled, deceived, in error, but he would not strike me as a schismatic.

The Fathers understood this, and in the anti-Chalcedonian movement it was always the case that the ordinary folk were to be treated with great leniency when they sought to be reconciled with the Church. It was understood that generally they were not participants in any sin of schism, or even wittingly in any heresy, and were received by a simple renunciation of error and confession of faith. The Fathers of the anti-Chalcedonian Orthodox movement never considered that the Chalcedonians had altogether ceased to be the Church. This is why we have not baptised or even chrismated any coming to our communion until the most recent decades. St Severus speaks of 'illegal re-anointing' as an 'abominable practice'.

Even today, where Eastern Orthodox are permitted to receive communion from our hands it is on the basis of their confessing no heresy, urging no schism, and by their desire and faithfulness in worship manifesting that Orthodoxy which has been required by the Fathers. To desire to worship with us eliminates any trace of schism. Schism is a sin of the will not a matter of jurisdiction.

It might be possible for me to consider that a member of a notionally 'hard-line' Eastern Orthodox jurisdiction might have no trace of schism in their heart, while a member of an ostensibly 'friendly' Eastern Orthodox jurisdiction might be eaten up by it. (And there are one or two of my own communion who are also apparently and as far as they can be known on the internet, eaten up by schism, even while members of the Church).

Is it serious that the Eastern Orthodox communion has separated itself from our Orthodoxy? Yes, of course. This is why there have not ceased to be efforts made to bring about reconciliation. The fact of the Islamic domination of the Middle East has made things very difficult in this regard. But that is no longer a factor, and it is now easy to communicate, where there is a will. Now we must see whether both sides indeed do have a will to be reconciled. Schism is not manifest simply by the fact of being separated. This is part of history. It is manifest as a sin in the hearts of those who perpetuate division.

There were dialogues all through the 6th and into the 7th centuries. There was a short lived reunion in the 7th century. There was the possibility of reunion in the 19th century. There is certainly a human division within the Church, and to say this is impossible is manifestly and historically false. But it is for us to see whether we add to division through our own cultivation of the sin of schism, or whether we do all that is possible and reasonable and appropriate to heal the wounds of the past.

I was born into and brought up in the Plymouth Brethren, a group whose distinctive beliefs I almost entirely reject as plain wrong. But was I separated from God and steeped in schism and heresy just by being born into such a situation? Or was I already on the spiritual pilgrimage to where I am now? I believe the latter, both of myself and of most people. We cannot help where we are born, we cannot easily choose what we know or learn, but we can choose what we do with what we know and learn. Had I discovered Orthodoxy, properly and with consideration, and rejected it, then I might well be guilty of separating myself in schism and heresy. But my whole life has been a journey towards and into Orthodoxy.

I take the same view towards Eastern Orthodox. All of us are on a spiritual journey. Is this one or that one growing in Orthodoxy, in love and truth, or is this one or that one turning in on themselves, fearfully narrowing and hardening their heart in schism? Where we start is not so much the issue. Just as the Fathers teach that we are born mortal but not sinful, so I would suggest that we are born into situations of broken-ness and division but not born schismatic. We choose to become sinners and schismatics ourselves.

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« Reply #68 on: September 22, 2011, 11:43:14 AM »

Dear Father Peter,

Beautiful post.  Glory Be to God!

Prayers for all who are on  "a journey towards and into Orthodoxy".

Love,

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« Reply #69 on: September 24, 2011, 08:48:29 PM »

Fr. Peter,

I understand that the heresiarch or lead schismatic would be the most culpable, but what about sacramental grace? How does that come into play during schism? Does schism from the Church mean a loss of sacraments? Or does it vary based on whether the schismatics pervert the faith or not?
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« Reply #70 on: September 25, 2011, 04:20:33 AM »

Hi William

Clearly the Church has never believed entirely that 'schism' however defined 'always' leads to a loss of grace. There have been so many divisions in the human experience of the Church and in almost all the important cases these have been resolved simply by what might be termed 'a synodal confession of faith' and then by communion.

What the Church has always done is surely some reflection of what the Church believes.

During the time of St Jacob Baradeus, in the 6th century, some of the senior anti-Chalcedonians, including the Patriarch of Antioch, were held prisoner in Constantinople in very difficult circumstances for many months. Eventually they were convinced by the Imperial authority, and by their own people, that a union with the Chalcedonians was possible. The Emperor promised that as soon as a union was effected then Chalcedon could be dealt with in a suitable manner. The anti-Chalcedonians agreed to commune with the Chalcedonians twice before they realised that they were being duped.

The issue here is that communion was to be effected by communion. There was no talk of 'economia'. It was understood that there was one Church and that there was a division within the Church which needed to be resolved. (This was the opinion on both sides as it was and is clearly a mutual division).

The same thing happened a century later when there was a short lived reunion between the Chalcedonians and anti-Chalcedonians. It was effected by communion on the basis that an agreement had been reached on the doctrinal issues.

Likewise when the Georgian Church decided to become Chalcedonian, there were no baptisms or chrismations and no talk of economia. There was an acceptance of certain doctrinal points and then union was effected by communion.

The same is true of Armenian approaches to Constantinople much later on. There was a list of requirements, but union would have been effected by accepting these requirements and then sharing in the sacrament of communion.

The attitude in Alexandria in the 19th century was just the same traditional Orthodox one. The Greek Patriarch would have become part of the Coptic Patriarchate by communion, and not by the celebration or recelebration of any sacraments.

Your last point is important. It does seem necessary to ask how far the faith has been perverted by any group seeking to reconciled. But it must be understood that generally those groups moving away from Orthodoxy have not sought to be reconciled to Orthodoxy. I do recall (I think) that when the last remnants of Novationism were united with the Church of Alexandria it was not by any sacramental means, but there are also other groups whose ordinations have not been recognised because the foundation of the ordinations was not Orthodox. I mean that in some cases where X was not properly a bishop and formed a breakaway group then he did not have the grace in any circumstances to ordain priests. But if X were a bishop who schismed then it seems that his ordinations might be accepted.

The trouble with the very strict view of schism is that it sweeps up all manner of circumstances. It forces a taking of sides which has never been Orthodox. If, in modern times, a communion finds itself having to set up a synod in resistance due to invasion or communism, then is that synod schismatic and graceless just because it has separated itself from the synod in the mother country? What if only a few a few other local Churches recognise this synod? Is it less Orthodox because of that? What if, under some political pressures, all the local Churches break communion for a time with this synod in resistance? Does this necessarily mean that it is not Orthodox and does it necessarily mean it is graceless?

I don't believe that relations with others is always the best way of gauging the Orthodoxy of a group. Often, in the reality of Church history, these tensions and divisions are resolved, and almost always this is without there being any situation where one group is considered graceless. I am finding it hard to think of situations where an orthodox schism (rather than a descent into a non-Christian heresy) leads to the denial of grace. There can certainly be lots of colourful language about other groups, and stern warnings about associating with them, but when it comes down to the process of reconciliation then we see what the groups really think of each other's condition. It is not possible to use 'economia' where there is no reality of grace at all. And the fact that most reunions have taken place on the basis of confession of faith and communion suggests to me that usually there is a recognition of grace, and that division can take place within the Church, as well as lead to schism and separation from the Church.

Father Peter
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Tags: ecumenism unity branch theory Never mind! No offense! No Thanks! schism 
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